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Howard Street pedestrian bridge will open in time for Bloomsday

Runners and spectators participating in Bloomsday can expect some Riverfront Park features to open in time for the race.

But construction fences and orange safety cones will be a glaring sight downtown for those standing outside the course.

The new Howard Street bridge is set to open Friday in time for Bloomsday. Most of Riverfront Park will open, including the Rotary Fountain, and people will be able to walk around it, but the fountains won’t be on, city parks spokeswoman Fianna Dickson said.

Sunday is forecast to be 76 degrees and partly cloudy. While enjoying the sun, expect to take a convoluted path through Riverfront Park because of construction, but don’t anticipate a perfect view of the finish line on the Monroe Street Bridge.

For this year’s run, Monroe Street downtown and its adjoining bridge will be closed, which will make the finish line difficult for spectators to see.

Don Kardong, Bloomsday founder, said that people will get the best view of the end of the race on Broadway right before the turn onto Monroe.

“It will be very difficult to see the finish line,” Kardong said.

Construction won’t impede runners on the 7.46-mile course, but downtown is still dotted with construction sites that runners and spectators will see before and after the race.

About three blocks from the finish line, Riverfront Park offers a good sport for spectators waiting for the race to end and runners after they cross the line. The Looff Carrousel in the park won’t be open Sunday, but the grounds around it will be, with the fences pushed to the back of the park. Dickson said the area right up to the glass walls of the carousel will be accessible.

“People can press their noses against the glass and see what’s going on,” she said.

No opening date has been announced for the carrousel, but the Howard Street bridge’s grand opening and the Rotary Fountain’s opening will coincide with it, which is marked for sometime in May, Dickson said.

The Howard Street bridge has been under construction for a year and a half. The bridge was completed in fall, but it’s been closed because of the pavilion’s construction on the north end, and the city also was able to save money for ordering the pavers, or the top layer of sidewalks, in bulk for all the projects in Riverfront Park.

Another road construction spot downtown is on Riverside Avenue by the Maple Street Bridge.

Marlene Feist, director of strategic development for the public works and utilities department, said that it will be cleared for runners on Sunday. There’s also a road construction spot on West Fort George Wright Drive that workers will have completed before the race, Feist said.

Feist said the city has been filling potholes along the course and sweeping it in preparation for the race, but the city’s solid waste crews and public safety workers will be prepping up until Sunday.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” she said.


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